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Every blogger who wants to gain more visibility online needs to come up with an SEO strategy that drives results. However, the landscape is constantly changing. As new trends emerge, webmasters need to adjust their sails to the wind in order to stay relevant.
The newest talk of the town when it comes to user behavior? The rise of voice search.
According to Google, 20% of mobile queries are now voice search, and that number seems to be growing.
It’s not hard to understand why. We all got used to instant gratification when we search for something online. Getting fast and relevant answers has become a norm. Virtual assistants such as Google Now, Siri, and Cortana all play their part in voice search, making it easier than ever to search the web.
Optimizing for voice search is tightly connected to the rollout of Google’s mobile-first index, as well as the featured snippets. So, what can you, as a blogger, do about it?
Understanding Voice Search
Although Google announced they will release analytics on voice search queries, webmasters are still waiting on tiptoes. This is why understanding how users use voice search can help you optimize your content. Basically, there are four different types of queries.
Users seeking educational content. They want to find the exact type of information – a concrete answer to a certain question that’s bugging them – and then possibly choose to read more about it.
Queries focusing on location. The so-called “near me” searches are very popular here, as well as recommendations (e.g. best pizza in New York).
Queries all about activities. Users are looking to get some inspiration, new ideas, or precise information on how to do something. The results typically include actionable guides.
Searches revolving around purchase decisions. Whether they seek additional details about certain products or brands, or they want to shop online, users make the most of search engines by using them to conduct thorough research before making a purchase.
Verbal searches differ from text searches in many ways. They use a more natural, conversational language and are typically longer, which means unlocking user intent is more important than ever. Think about what your blog is about. In what industry are you trying to build authority? Map out all relevant questions that users might be interested in, so you can provide satisfying answers in your posts.
"Think about what your blog is about. In what industry are you trying to build authority?"
Having a Featured Snippet Can Help
Because of the nature of voice search, implementing long tail keywords is the first thing to consider when optimizing your blog posts. Long tail keywords are phrases consisting of 3 – 4 words that are hyper-specific to your content. Voice searchers are more likely to use long tail keywords when submitting their query, due to the way we speak. Use Google Keyword Planner or other free tools, such as Answer the Public to get ideas on which keywords to use.
There’s a correlation between appearing in the featured snippet and in voice search results. By analyzing 1000 voice searches on Google home, Dr. Peter J. Meyers from MOZ brought us intriguing insights. It turns out almost 90% of the textual featured snippets tracked in the research yielded a voice answer.
Does that mean if you manage to get the coveted featured snippet position in Google search results you’ll instantly ensure your place among voice search results? Not necessarily, but you get better chances if you do.
If you want to appear in the featured snippet, you need to focus on providing in-depth answers that are simple and easily consumable. This means your sentences should be clearly structured and not too lengthy.
Let’s say you run a cooking blog and you want to write a post on how to make the best chocolate chip cookies. It’s good to provide the core of your answer in the introduction, so that Google crawlers can recognize it as an instant problem-solver. Make readers crave for more after reading the first couple of sentences, so that they are intrigued to click on the link that directs them to your site.
This captivating summary should go up to 58 words, as this is the amount of text appearing in the snippet. You’ll also want to include the question itself somewhere at the beginning of your post. Pay attention to your FAQ page and try providing the most precise answers in a conversational tone.
Mobile and User-friendly Content
Given the fact we are about to witness a change in a way Google indexes pages with its mobile-first index, bloggers need to make their pages mobile responsive. Voice searches most frequently come from mobile devices. To test whether or not your site works well outside of desktop, you can use Google’s Mobile-friendly Test and make changes if necessary for a better user experience.
Users are not that easily pleased today and it’s highly unlikely they will come back to a website that once let them down in terms of responsiveness. Whether it was broken links or hard navigation and poor image sizing, they won’t forgive a bad experience. Slow page load is particularly a deal breaker: did you know 53% of mobile users abandon sites that take over 3 seconds to load? This triggers another problem: high bounce rate.
High bounce rate (i.e. users opening your site and very quickly moving away from it) acts like a signal for Google that your site is not relevant, which means it won’t get high rankings in voice search results.
Voice recognition will continue to advance and hopefully, we’ll have more data and recommended practices from Google before it takes the world by a storm. Until then, rely on the mentioned tried-out practices and let the world know about your blog by optimizing the content for voice search.
What do you think about the rise of voice search? Let us know in the comments below!
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